On March 9, I, along with several other local officials, testified before the state Senate Committee on Elections and Reapportionment relative to the San Gabriel Valley.
I basically made three requests which I think were simple, clear and reasonable. They have to do: first, with the integrity of our city boundaries; second, with the integrity of the San Gabriel Valley, and, finally, with the integrity of the reapportionment process itself.
In 1980, the California electorate voted decisively for Proposition 6, an amendment to the state Constitution that requires "the geographical integrity of any city county or city and county, or of any geographical region shall be respected to the extent possible."
I am convinced that the city of Covina--and, I have no doubt, many of the other cities in the San Gabriel Valley as well--will sue under that language if we are divided by Senate, Assembly or congressional district boundaries.
We will not again tolerate a 31st Senate district that divides West Covina, that divides Whittier. Nor will we tolerate a 25th Senate District that divides Covina nor a 26th Senate District that divides West Covina, that divides Industry and that divides Whittier.
Another clear request: Don't mess with the San Gabriel Valley! It has already suffered in the recent supervisorial redistricting, and in the next round of that still-unfinished process you can be sure that we will demand--and achieve--a supervisorial district fully based upon the San Gabriel Valley.
Let there be no mistake! When it comes to legislative and congressional redistricting, we will not accept boundaries of the type that were drawn in 1981 and 1982.
What does the 25th Senate District do? It takes the northern cities of the San Gabriel Valley--Azusa, Claremont, Glendora, La Verne, San Dimas and most of Covina--and unites them with Inyo County. Try driving from Azusa to Mammoth Lake. It's a six-hour trip. What on earth is the community of interest in that district?
The 31st Senate District unites the southern San Gabriel Valley cities--Walnut, most of West Covina, most of Whittier, part of Industry--with Laguna Niguel in Orange County. Where is the community of interest in that district?
Let's be honest. The sole reason for those absurd districts was politics. First, the drive of the majority party to keep itself in power. Second, the drive of incumbents to avoid challenges. We will not tolerate such districts again. Regional integrity and community integrity are too important to be subordinated to partisan and incumbent gerrymanders.
In 1991, we expect the Senate Committee on Elections and Reapportionment to return with the completed plans, to hold hearings on them in the San Gabriel Valley. We in the San Gabriel Valley expect--and will demand--a public process with genuine integrity.
We must never sacrifice the integrity of the San Gabriel Valley on the shabby altar of partisan politics.
CHRISTOPHER W. LANCASTER
Mayor, City of Covina